Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes is finally addressing one of the controversial questions that arose in the wake of reports slamming her company’s blood-testing technology: Is the media coverage of Holmes sexist?
Speaking to Bloomberg Businessweek for a story that went online Thursday, Holmes said:
While Holmes doesn’t go so far as to label it sexism, her message is clear: The story would have played out differently if she were a man.
For months, there’s been speculation about whether Holmes’ gender played a role in the deluge of skeptical stories that followed the Wall Street Journal‘s original Theranos exposé. Publications including Elle and Bustle ran pieces that accused the media of using sexist and condescending language in stories about Holmes and the controversy. Fortune also jumped into the fray, as I argued that tough media scrutiny is actually a sign that we’re treating Holmes like any other founder.
Holmes also alludes to the effect that her age and gender — she was famously 19 when she started Theranos–may have had on investors and media earlier in her career:
Prior to the Journal article, Holmes was something of a media darling, appearing on the covers of several national magazines (including Fortune). Given the paucity of young, female tech founders, there’s no doubt that her status as woman played some role in that coverage.
This isn’t the first time Holmes has spoken out on issues related to women in technology. In a Glamour interview, she credited her parents for encouraging her to play with Legos as well a Barbies, and earlier this year spoke to Fortune about her #IronSisters campaign, which she said she created to encourage women to help one another.